The Turks and Caicos are a legend in the diving community, and a Turks and Caicos scuba diving trip is a bucket list item for many divers. The islands are home to some of the best diving globally and are known worldwide for shark diving and great encounters with other big life.
One thing to remember is the string of 40 Caribbean islands that make up the Turks and Caicos are a biodiversity hotspot with a stunning array of life. This applies to the marine life around the islands and the life on land, with multiple endemic species of snakes, lizards, plants, and more. Life is so rich on the island the United Kingdom’s government has added the islands to its preliminary UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
You can visit and dive Turks and Caicos year-round, although the best time to visit tends to be around February through April. The rainy season in Turks and Caicos runs from late August through early November and occasionally some of December. The climate and weather on Turks and Caicos are stunning year-round, with temperatures ranging from 75-95F/24-35C and the water temperature varying between 79-85F/26-29C year-round.
The uninhabited island lies unsparingly in the west of Caicos and features some of the best experiences you can have on a Turks and Caicos scuba diving trip. The main diving area is an enormous wall that lies about 100 to 150 yards/meters from shore and stretches for an impressive 6 miles. Along this monstrously long wall, there are more than 25 dive sites to explore.
The wall is simply mind-blowing. A healthy coral reef is in the shallows until you reach a depth of around 40ft/12m. From this point, the wall starts and is vertical or near vertical in many places. The wall is made even more impressive when you consider that it drops down an utterly incomprehensible 6,000 ft/1,829m
Diving the wall is a tale of two dives; on the wall side, you have a rich coral reef with plenty of things to explore. The wall and shallows offer some of the best reef diving from coral, critters, and nudibranchs. Off the wall in the blue is where the action is and the kind of diving that has made Turks and Caicos famous. You can regularly spot large pelagics, “big stuff,” in the blue. Sharks, eagle rays, and more are common. You can also spot big mantas passing by and, on occasion, schools of hammerhead sharks.
One unique aspect of diving in West Caicos is that the site is suitable for every level of divers due to the shallow reef area and fantastic visibility that regularly exceeds 100ft/30m. So it is an excellent location for beginners to experience a stunning reef and true wall diving, while experienced divers can enjoy the pelagics in the blue!
Columbus Landfall Marine National Park
Columbus Landfall Marine National Park is home to some of the best Turks and Caicos scuba diving. The park is the largest on the island and features tons of shore and boat diving sites. So far, there are 25 moored dive sites and numerous shore diving sites. There is everything to experience here, from coral heads and sandy patches to crazy walls that descend to the abyss.
Like West Cay, the shallows are perfect for every level of diver, with almost non-existent currents and plenty of coral and sandy patches. The reef slopes down gently from shore to a depth of around 40ft/12m before the wall start. At this point, the wall is spectacular and drops down thousands of feet to the abyssal plain.
The marine life at Columbus Landfall Marine National Park is rich and diverse, and as with most Turks and Caicos diving, there are plenty of sharks. On the shallower side of the reef, they tend to be nurse sharks, although encounters with lemon sharks, blacktip reef sharks, and other reef shark species are not uncommon. The reefs are also home to plenty of groupers, wrasses, and about every reef fish imaginable. Macro fans can enjoy exploring since there are many critters to find hiding among the corals.
Located on the southern-eastern tip of the Turks and Caicos, Salt Cay is one of the most famous dive sites on the islands and often the highlight of any Turks and Caicos scuba diving trip. What makes Salt Cay famous is the whales. Humpback whales can be seen and experienced as they make their way away from their breeding grounds.
If you are lucky, you can encounter the whales while diving Salt Cay or take a whale-watching trip. Aside from the whales, the diving around Salt Cay is incredible. The reefs are pristine and rich in coral and marine life. Aside from the reefs, there are several wrecks around Salt Cay, including HMS Endymion, which sank in 1790. Diving the wreck, you get a glimpse into history, seeing the old anchors and cannons lying on the sea bed. There are a few other wrecks to explore in the area, including a twin-engine seaplane.
Salt Cay is open to most levels of divers with easy, relatively easy conditions. The island is idyllic, with white sandy beaches and a feeling of remoteness that reminds you f the Caribbean during times gone by. Although it takes longer to get to than some other Turks and Caicos scuba diving destinations, Salt Cay is definitely worth the extra effort to get there.
Turks and Caicos Scuba Diving Wall Heaven French Cay
If you want a guarantee of seeing sharks, the closest thing you will get is a suggestion to take a Turks and Caicos scuba diving trip and dive French Cay. The diving here is spectacular and, more often than not, one of the best dives you will ever do.
The wall at French Cay is typical of many Turks and Caicos walls. It runs from East to West, while the shallows up to a depth of around 40ft/12m are home to stunning pristine corals. At that depth, the wall starts and plummets to over 6000ft/1,829m. visibility at French Cay is incredible, regularly exceeding 100ft/30m. The wall itself is dramatic; in some places is a sheer drop, while in others, it features a gentler slope. Diving the reefs of French Cay, there are tons of corals, reef fish, eels, turtles, and different rays. Nurse sharks also visit the Cay during the summer months to breed.
If you are looking for Pelagics, you are at the right place. A wide range of sharks can be found in the waters of French Cay. You can regularly encounter a variety of reef sharks, including Blacktips, and schooling hammerheads can be routinely encountered in the blue during the right season. If the sharks are not enough, manta rays are known to pass by, and from January to March, you stand a good chance of bumping into a Humpback whale on your French Cay diving trip.
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